WRKS Intellectual Property To Be Merged Into WBLS

98.7 Kiss Kiss-FM KissFM WRKS New York 107.5 WBLS YMF Media Tom Joyner Michael Baisden
In addition to leasing the 98.7 frequency in New York to ESPN, Emmis has sold the “Kiss-FM” intellectual property to YMF Media which will merge it into its 107.5 WBLS.

WRKS and WBLS began a delayed simulcast at 10am this morning as the stations begin to transition 98.7’s audience over to 107.5.

WRKS middayer Shalia and night host Lenny Greene will move to WBLS in the same timeslots. WBLS will retain Steve Harvey in the mornings and Jeff Foxx in afternoons. Tom Joyner, Michael Baisden, and Keith Sweat lose their syndicated slots. WBLS’s midday shift had been vacant since Egypt departed the station in February.

Prior to the sign-off of “98.7 Kiss-FM” this weekend the stations will pay tribute to the history of Kiss.

Here’s Emmis Press Release:
Emmis Communications EMMS +12.63% today announced a long-term Local Programming and Marketing Agreement (LMA) with ESPN Radio to provide programming and sell advertising on New York’s 98.7FM. Emmis also entered into a transaction to sell the intellectual property rights of Kiss FM, the current format Emmis programs on 98.7FM, to YMF Media, who is in the process of acquiring New York radio stations WBLS-FM and WLIB-AM. In conjunction with these transactions, Emmis also announced that it entered into a loan agreement with a large insurance company. The total consideration related to the proceeds from the loan agreement, initial payment from the sale of Kiss FM intellectual property rights, and the present value of certain loan reserves required under the agreement with the insurance company which Emmis expects to receive in the future, will be approximately $96 million. The long-term LMA is not tied to a sale of the station. Transaction proceeds will be used to repay amounts outstanding under Emmis’ senior credit facility and to pay transaction fees and expenses.

“We want to thank our loyal employees and especially the fans of Kiss FM for an amazing 30 year run including several periods where Kiss was the number one ranked station in New York,” Emmis Chairman and CEO Jeff Smulyan said. “Recent changes in the way radio ratings are measured made it very difficult for us to find success with Kiss FM despite the great work of our Emmis New York team. We hope the best parts of Kiss will continue to live on. With enhanced financial flexibility we look forward to enhancing our service to New York’s urban community at our award winning Hot97 brand.”

This weekend Emmis New York plans to celebrate 30 years of Kiss FM. Emmis purchased Kiss FM 98.7 in 1994.

“I have so many friends on the Kiss FM team and this is an extraordinarily difficult decision for me, however the benefits to the financial health of Emmis as a whole are significant. Coupled with the sale of a controlling interest in three of our radio stations to Merlin Media and the forthcoming sale of KXOS in Los Angeles, we will have one of the healthiest balance sheets in media thereby positioning Emmis for future growth,” Smulyan said.

The Emmis employees affected by today’s announcement will receive generous severance packages.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and Wiley Rein LLP served as legal counsel and Moelis & Company served as financial advisor to Emmis.

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